Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blogging

Instead of driving around dodging drunks (or partying it up doing the same), I stayed home tonight. Please tolerate the result:





Believe it or not, there's not a drop of alcohol in my system. It's true. I need no assistance butchering a lovely song, as you can clearly see :p

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Instrument -- Of Torture

Behold the confession-o-matic. In the right hands, this nifty device will extract a confession of murder from the pope himself.



Let me tell you, I am terrible. I've never played a fiddle before (or any bowed instrument, for that matter), and it's proving to be more of a challenge than I'd anticipated. This evening, my family shut the door on me and the dog hid under a chair. I'm determined, though, and I'm already at an advantage, already understanding written music and plenty of theory. All I have to do now is make it not sound like a goose in mortal pain.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Google Suggest

Google's "Suggest" feature is a fascinating insight into the currents of thought flowing through our society.



I believe there is little left to say.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

City Slicker



The giant wraps itself in its favorite blanket, huddling down, hugging itself. To see it from outside, one would think it was miserable, its breath steaming from vents in the street and its buildings, like limbs, shuddering with cold. This, though, is not so, for inside its blanket of fog and snow, it is quite warm, quite comfortable, and absolutely full of life.

In a well-worn chair in a dark corner of the tea house, Aryn sits, sipping at a snifter of scotch only every few minutes, apparently in no hurry at all. Here, there’s no need to rush. Aryn can sink into his customary chair in the corner, sip his customary whiskey, and stare blankly ahead, his eyes sometimes closing slowly for a couple minutes, just as he does nearly every other night of the year. The familiar voices around him are soft enough, and the light is low enough, that Aryn comes here to wander in the vivid universe between consciousness and sleep. It’s from this stuffed chair in the corner that Aryn departs on his most satisfying adventures. He has only to let his mind drift away while his eyes close.

As he mulls over the atmosphere this afternoon, inviting his mind to drift, the door at the entrance to the tea house swings open, letting in a piercing white light, followed by a puff of snow, a blast of cold air, and, finally, a heavily bundled person, clutching his hood under his chin. As the door closes, the warmth inside readily dissolves the cold it let in. The newcomer shakes off the snow and the cold, lowering his hood and making his way to be absorbed, himself, by the warm atmosphere inside.

After the man disappears into the low hubbub, Aryn drifts again, a picture in his mind of the warmth of the surrounding air absorbing the cold many times again. It begins to absorb him in gentle comfort, too.

It’s so cold out there. People outdoors come in for warmth, and as they do, they relax, opening up, their very molecules expanding ever so slightly as their bodies absorb the readily-provided comfort of the tea house. They’ve been running; they’ve flushed cheeks and heavy breath. Once inside, they stop running. They sit, comfortable, warming, smiling to themselves before they even notice the people they came to see. Something about the surrounding warmth takes precedence even over the purpose people seem to have, despite them not appearing to take notice or even care to notice what that mysterious something is. As the people warm inside, they exude a sort of energy. Their contentedness is tangible.

Aryn’s eyes open again, and he looks around himself, smiling drowsily at nothing more than the comfort of the snug chair he’s in and the soothing sound of low conversation around him. The mild fuzziness from the alcohol – also warm, he muses – makes it easy to slip in and out of full consciousness, thinning the veil between the two worlds. The warmth in the room clearly goes beyond temperature. Aryn takes in the dark paneled walls, the soft human voices, and the sweet smell of a tobacco pipe, relaxing himself against the collective mass of his surroundings. Supreme comfort holds him steady, pulling him back down from the waking world.

It’s not just here. Aryn sees, now, a building from outside, people gathered therein, warming themselves inside it. The building, Aryn notices, isn’t a passive structure at all. It nurtures the precious life within with gentle arms as it keeps at bay the elements outside, powerful, without conscience, and deadly. The building has a distinct interest in its occupants, for without them, it would not exist. Indeed, without being nurtured itself, this protective behemoth would crumble.

Aryn pulls himself out of his vision, and his eyes barely open as he reaches to the table beside him for whiskey. He smiles again as he feels its warmth in his throat and his mind. Upon finishing his drink, he replaces it on the table and moves outward in thought to the walls behind him and around him and the ceiling above. He knows without looking they stand, steadfast, between him and the bitter cold. These walls harbor the coziness in which Aryn now basks.

Aryn’s mind sees grey again, then mahogany or redwood…he sees dark paneling on the walls that surround him, then low lights hanging from the sturdy ceiling above. The wider city materializes into view. There aren’t any more people – they’re there, to be sure – but they’re too deep within it to notice now, like individual cells. The city itself focuses inward. The buildings together appear to be staying as close between themselves as possible, as though taking great care to a minute task at the city’s base. The city has an air of a giant plant, its petals shut tight around itself, asleep on the outside but feasting on the vital nutrients underfoot, waiting for the call of a bright, warm sun…As the vision of the great city-flower’s feast moves more clearly into view, just about to resolve itself, the scene becomes grey again. Dark reds…heaviness. Comfort. Warmth. Aryn has fallen through to the other side of the border lands, and he sees before him an inviting expanse of deep, comfortable sleep. It’s so soft. As it pulls him closer, he gains momentum…

Aryn doesn't stir. This city, while giving of itself security and warmth, takes enough energy in return to put Aryn right to sleep.


It's unrelated to the story, but I took this one today, too. I wonder if I'll ever get over the beauty of the city.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Smell a Rat

No, really. She smells a little like berries and spice. It's not anything she's gotten into -- she just smells.

Most fuzzy critters smell, and many don't smell very good at all. A rat, though, has a completely inoffensive (albeit a bit weird) odor.

Random tidbit. I've got nothing else interesting to say.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fresh Sounds

It's not my music today, but one I've just stumbled upon. I say, Last.fm is a gold mine. In browsing artists similar to Medeski, Martin and Wood, I stumbled upon a strange group called Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. Odd name, right? Odd music:





If you're not into fusion, bear in mind there's nothing to "get". It's more about form than anything.

Beyond that, his banjo has wings, and the guy on the left (er, stage left) is playing the drums. Whether you like the music or not, you've got to admit it doesn't get much cooler than this visual.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Even Though I Fail Anyway

I don't have much to say, except to recommend a cool program.

Simply called, "NZB", this handy dandy little utility will load an NZB file and download the appropriate files. I had a heck of a time finding a decent NZB newsreader for Windows until I stumbled upon this gem. Maybe somebody else will find this link useful.

Missed!

Dadgummit. I almost made it. It's not that I couldn't post, see -- it's that I forgot.

They say it's a problem when it interferes with your life, right? I'm afraid it's become a problem.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Leashed

I told myself, awhile back, that I'd never take a job that required an on-call responsibility. This job, the one I've just recently begun, does. And it's not so bad.

I don't do much on the weekends anyway, for one, and it's a handy way to make a few extra bucks. I suppose if I didn't like what I did, it'd be a different story, but as it stands, I'm perfectly happy with it. I'm covering the holiday, and I only got one call yesterday, and it was in the morning. Today? Half a dozen.

I'm gonna have me a fun time shopping next weekend, methinks. This weekend, I'm neck deep in the development of a new 'toon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Song For the Bird

I sang a bit of blues for Tom.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part IX

Giles was waiting. Every minute or so, he’d glance at the clock on his desk, then he would look back at the door, anxious in anticipation. She said she’d meet him at eight, and it was eight fifteen already. Had something terrible happened?

Just as he was nearing panic, a knock came from the door. He bolted up, both startled and relieved, and slid the peep hole door open. It was her. He un-chained, unlocked, and opened the door, preparing himself.

The mousy girl at the door lowered her head, her average brown hair falling over her face. “Hey,” she mumbled. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, it’s nothing at all,” said Giles, stepping aside. “Please, come in. Bella, right?” Giles, of course, knew full well her name. He’d committed it to memory when he first ran into her downtown, the helpless girl who shyed away even from him. She was pinned to a wall by one of the newly-arrived vampires (surely about to be dinner), but Giles was able to shoo him off with a wave of his hand and a few loud noises. For being so invulnerable, the new vampires appeared to be terribly skittish.

Bella nodded, stepping through the door and stumbling over the threshold. Giles caught her by the arm. She remembered their first meeting, too – this strange man with a strange accent had passed by her and Edward, but he stopped to wave his arms about and shout “Shoo! Shoo!” as they embraced. This confused her, but Edward just rolled his eyes and ran away. Of course, he knew what Giles thought he saw, and he explained it to Bella later. Giles asked her name, and if she needed anything, and while she thought it a bit creepy, she was obliged to him for his apparent good will. Maybe he was just peculiar. In any case, he was her first contact here, and since she so badly wanted to go home, she figured she could seek his help in returning. She had no idea if he would be at all able to help her, but he at least seemed harmless enough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Party it up!

The internet says I should have a holiday party, so by golly, I think I'm gonna do it. There will be garland and nogg and a shiny tree and presents. Maybe I'll pipe festive tunes in from the internet and hire a couple dancing elv-- err. Hrm.

Maybe there will just be festive tunes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Almost Missed

I'm exhausted. I nearly missed, but despite crashing at nine this evening, I woke up just in time to post.

What a strange list of priorities, my internal clock follows.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ah, but a goodie.

I spent some time with the grandparents this evening.

Once, quite a long time ago, a man went to an estate sale of a photographer. He bought a roll-top desk, and in it, he found a great number of negatives. This man loaned my grandpa the negatives so he could make prints, and make prints, he did. He's got about fifty of them.

My grandpa, being the technology enthusiast he is, decided to put digital copies of these prints on a DVD as a slide show. In helping, I talked him into sharing.



This photo is of downtown -- it's about two minutes south of my apartment. Apart from the dirt road now being paved and a conspicuous lack of horse-drawn carriages, it looks pretty much exactly the same now as it does in this photo. The only other change is the nearest building on the corner. It was rebuilt after the above picture was taken, and it now looks like this:



This unique historic record is one of the coolest things I've ever encountered. I don't understand the meaning behind a lot of these photos; the school house where my uncle went to kindergarten looks a little like a church, but that's about all I can say about it. Even so, I am quite pleased to have such a thing.

I've got a picture of my grandpa, too, when he was about seventeen. He's on a Whizzer. I look an awful lot like him.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part VIII

Giles sat in a chair at his desk, tapping an open book with his fingers. Books surrounded him – they were stacked two or three deep on his desk, all open to about the middle, and he had a stack next to him on the floor. The coffee table had half a dozen volumes spread open on it where Willow and Xander and Buffy had been researching. Giles, though, wasn’t looking any of the books. He was watching the door.

These new vampires appeared about a week ago, but Giles hadn’t figured out where they came from. He also didn’t know for sure if they were actually vampires – from what he could tell (by Spike’s account, mostly), they were significantly more powerful than the vampires he knew. There was something in their eyes, too, some red inner fire. Rumor also had it they were immune to sunlight and holy water. Immune. This, alone, had Giles thinking they were some creature other than the true vampire. A hybrid, perhaps? He could find nothing in the texts about actual vampires immune to sunlight apart from a few passages alluding to stories from the sixteenth century, and those were unreliable, at best.

On top of their strange physical characteristics, their behavior was also extraordinary. They hunted in very specific areas – normal enough – but instead of killing primarily to feed, it appeared these newcomers were hunting for sport. Some of their victims were hardly drained at all. Only the cruelest vampires of lore would behave like that (Spike had made sure Giles recognized that he, in fact, knew plenty about being a cruel vampire of lore). Beyond that, their hunting areas were moving in a clearly organized fashion from east to west. To top it off, it’s like these demons were made for the hunt. They attracted their prey with uncanny ease, like a neon mosquito light.

He hoped that by spreading books all about, the gang would get the idea he was knee-deep in research and excuse him from odd behavior. He did get a bit odd when he was onto something, he knew. Shooing Buffy and Willow and Xander from the apartment was a bit extreme, but they didn’t seem to question him. As it happened, Giles wasn’t actually knee-deep in research – in fact, he had scoured most of his volumes already, and he had come up utterly dry. There was nothing in there about vampires immune to sunlight or with blood-red eyes or with the ability to run at what appeared to be light speed. He just needed the kids out of the apartment. Perhaps it was rash and irresponsible to send them into danger, but for all he was unable to find in his books, Giles had a lead.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time for a Change

After a couple weeks of oatmeal, dry cereal, and PBJ, I'd had quite enough of all three. Tonight, I had steak.

The only "trick" to fried steak is a single malt soak. I'm not sure how popular it is, but since cooking evaporates the alcohol, it leaves the steak with a shade of that rich, almost smoky scotch flavor. I can't imagine doing a steak any other way.



Any excuse to eat mushrooms an' onions is a valid one.



Don't skimp on the olive oil. If you don't have to cover the pan to prevent a splattered kitchen, you probably haven't used enough.



This here is a dinner of fried steak, beans and corn bread, and steamed frozen corn. I ate well tonight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Strung Out

I re-strung today. I wandered around in the music store for about half an hour before I got my strings, plunking on this or that. To my credit, I only left with what I went for -- two sets of guitar strings and a set of ukulele strings.

In stringing, I learned stuff.

If your guitar has a floating bridge and you change string gauges, adjusting the bridge and getting the strings properly in tune is a heck of a trick. Took me the better part of an hour, no joke.

If your strings have been out in the cold, let them warm up inside before you string your guitar with them. Those things whip pretty hard when they break.

Stringing a ukulele is somewhat of an art form. I'd never done it before, and despite getting the strings on backwards the first time, I didn't do too poorly in the end. Those little twisty knots on the bridge are neat looking.

Yes, so I have nothing important to say. It's a day, though, and a day requires a post. There you have it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Butterfly

I fell in love with this Weezer song in sixth grade (read: when they were still cool). My rendition here isn't exactly how it goes, but I figured such a pretty song deserved more colorful chords.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And Now, for Something Completely Different

No, really.

I don't normally do politics, but I must speak this once.

One senator has already been convicted of what amounts to corruption charges (close enough, at least), and he retains his seat. Now, our vice president is indicted on an entirely unrelated charge.

While the charge sounds weak and politically motivated, it illustrates an elemental point -- one which, sadly, is sort of an elephant in the living room by now. I have my doubts about Mr. Change's actual... changiness. To fix a system this broken, I'm afraid we're going to need more help.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part VII

Something rustled again in the woods, and Xander thought he heard a pained groan again. Sure, he thought, I know this game. I’m not so easily fooled.

“I’m sorry,” a timid voice rose from just behind the tree line. “I fell.” A mousy girl of seventeen or eighteen emerged from behind a tree. The simple dress she wore seemed entirely out of place in Sunnydale and not quite loud enough to suit a vampire, but she was pale enough to pass.

Xander, quite sure of the vampire’s ruse at this point, stepped forward now with his fists raised awkwardly in front of his face. “You can’t fool me!” he said, his voice shaking a little.

The girl cowered.

“Xander, stop,” said Willow. “She’s not a vampire.”

Xander stopped where he was, his fists still raised, and he turned back toward Willow. “What do you mean? She’s all pale, and she’s certainly not from—“

There was a flash of shadow from the woods, and before anybody knew what was happening, Xander was pinned to the ground under a bristling vampire – one of the new arrivals. Xander’s face twisted in fear as he stared, paralyzed, into the vampire’s eyes.

“That’s a vampire!” Willow yelled, pointing helpfully.

The girl, on the other hand, didn’t move. She didn’t even react, apart from a mild look of awe on her face.

The vampire, snarling like a feral animal, looked into Xander’s eyes for a moment, then his face softened, and as soon as he had appeared, he was gone. He didn’t get up and leave, no; just like he appeared, he just… vanished.

Xander didn’t get up. A look of utter confusion joined the fear on his face, and he brushed his hands down and across his chest in a panic, like he was trying to rid himself of the memory of the beast on top of him. “What the… but he just… was that a… am I alive?”

“That was Edward. He can tell what you’re thinking,” said the girl. “He must not have seen a threat.”

“You know him?” Xander’s mouth gaped in disbelief. Then, a bit hurt, “What do you mean, he didn’t see a threat?” Then, disbelieving again, “He can read minds?”

“He’s not evil. Well, sort of. He doesn’t eat people, usually,” the girl explained. Then, she added, “He’s just eaten, anyway.”

“What’s going on?” Xander demanded. Willow helped him to his feet.

“Vampires. I was just on my way to—“ The almost surprised look of just having remembered something came to the girl’s face, and with that revealing bit of information, she stumbled back into the forest. By the time Xander decided to follow her, the sound of her crashing through the woods had faded.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Singin'

I start singing, and I can't easily stop. I didn't think to record a video until I was about through, since I was just messing around with Garage Band. This is the last singin' video for awhile, honest.




Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Multimedia

I'm not so good at singing, but dang, it's fun.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Control Freak

So, I have a problem. I'll admit to it, at least -- they do say admitting it is the first step to recovery, right? No, screw recovering. Need WoW. NEED IT.


I may not have self-control, but I can at least think ahead. I know I'm too lazy to log in and change the settings, and it's a good reminder that says "Hey, dude. Enough."

I'm afraid of losing my life, what can I say? Plenty of people devote themselves so deeply to this game (or any game, for that matter), they don't get to experience their own life. The last thing I want to live is a one-dimensional existence, absorbed in this virtual world. It's not a bad place, to be sure -- I love this game -- but it's not the only place, by any means.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part VI

Willow and Xander stopped at the swings on the playground and let themselves down into them. They weren’t doing much good at all, and it showed in their disappointed faces. Giles had sent them away shortly after Buffy left his apartment, and with these frightening new vampires recently arrived, the pair wondered briefly if Giles had gone mad in sending them out in the dark. He had, of course, gone mad in the way one does when consumed by a mystery, and the way Giles was acting about this (he had more books piled about his apartment, opened to seemingly random pages, than Willow or Xander had ever seen – and that said quite a bit, there) left it to no great feat of logic to assume he wasn’t thinking about much else. It was alright, anyway. Buffy was around, somewhere, and there hadn’t been any reports of the new arrivals in this area. They sure seemed to stick to certain areas.

As they swung back and forth idly, Willow kicking the dirt at her feet and Xander staring off at nothing in the woods adjacent to the park, the wind blew dry leaves across the grass. It was peaceful here tonight, despite the “super vampire” threat looming overhead. Willow broke the silence.

“Do you think Giles will find anything?” She continued kicking the dirt around at her feet each time she swung forward.

“I’m sure he will. He’s Giles, right? He’s the book guy! We were probably slowing him down.” Xander smiled wide, assuring himself as much as he tried to assure Willow. He seemed distracted, too.

“Yeah,” Willow replied, drifting back off into her own thoughts.

They sat in silence again for a few minutes, neither having much more to say.

This time, Willow wasn’t the one to break the silence. There was a “CRASH!” in the woods, followed by an “Oof” or an “Ohh.” It was hard to tell which, as startled as Willow and Xander both were.

Xander jumped off his swing and put his arm out in front of Willow, expecting the worst, prepared to fight whatever was out there. “Hey! I know you’re out there,” Xander yelled, trying to sound as assertive as he could. “Come out! Show yourself!” He had balled his free hand into a fist.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part V

“You’re one of them?” Buffy asked.

“I’m from the same place.” Edward’s voice was calm, measured. “I’m not ‘one of them’, though. I’ve made a different… lifestyle choice. Listen, there’s a lot we can talk about. Is there somewhere safe we can go? They’ve just discovered we’re here.”

Buffy, while not completely affected by Edward’s beauty, was still under a bit of his thrall. “… Sure. Giles is probably waiting for me, anyway. I told him I would find out where they’re at, and I figured they’d be here. We can go there.” Buffy seemed to trail off a bit at the end of her sentence, apparently lost in other thoughts. She was staring.

Spike scoffed, stepping forward now. If there’s anything he knew, it was that Buffy was susceptible to pretty vampires. And Spike, well, with Angel out of the picture, he was starting to become more protective. “We’re not going anywhere ‘till you tell us what’s going on. This isn’t right. It’s not right,” he repeated weakly as Edward turned toward him.

“We’re going now. They’re on their way.”

Spike stood, silent. Then he resigned, deflating, and they were off. Edward seemed to disappear into thin air, and Buffy and Spike started towards Giles’.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part IV

Buffy and Spike both turned to see a pale kid of eighteen or twenty leaning up against the roof access door. He had dark circles under his eyes, and despite his eyes being a rich, golden color (the others, Spike noticed the last time he was up close, had a sinister red in their eyes), he was unmistakably one of them.

Buffy raised her fists, and Spike moved out of her swinging radius. He planned to take a flank, and he didn’t fancy getting caught on the dangerous side of Buffy’s attack.

“I can help you,” said the stranger in a subdued, musical tone, looking straight at Buffy. He took a slow step forward and held his hands out from his side, palms forward. There’s no need for alarm.

Buffy lowered her fists almost as soon as he spoke. She saw a sort of pristine beauty in the man, and the rest of the world almost melted away. She stepped toward him, not thinking much of anything.

“Hey! What the…” Spike, sensing an impending disaster, took the matter into his own hands. He charged, arms wide, inflated.

The young stranger lifted his arm in a flash just as Spike dove to tackle him. The impact was audible, and Spike found himself skidding away on his back before he knew what happened. The stranger stood still, as though he hadn’t moved at all, and he didn’t break eye contact with Buffy.

Spike looked up with his head still down, surprised and hot with anger, and he cradled his ribs with his arm. He sneered and rose to his feet, but he didn’t charge again. He remembered the last time he tried to fight.

Buffy recovered immediately, and she raised her hands again and moved in. Every swing met with one of the newcomer's arms, glancing off harmlessly. As Buffy moved forward, the kid stepped back, but apparently of his own accord. He kept Buffy’s frenzied attacks at bay with no apparent effort.

At length, the newcomer jumped to the top of the roof access door, out of Buffy’s reach. “I can help you,” he said again, as coolly as he’d said it the first time.

Buffy wasn’t as affected this time around. She didn’t let down her guard, but she stepped back a couple paces. “Who are you?”

“Edward,” the stranger said from atop the roof. “Edward Cullen.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hooked

I told myself I'd play Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I played my weekend away.

Starting now, I'll play Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

It's Monday.

Sorry, I've got to go. Pressing... business. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Multi Media

If you have children or small animals who may be frightened of terrible noises, you may want to have them leave the room.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Doomed



It's been a good year or two. I think I can handle it responsibly. I hope I can handle it responsibly.

At least, when I disappear and fail NaBloPoMo again, you'll know why.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Media

So, Twilight. There's a movie coming out. As horrible as the book was, I fancy the concept, and I have hope the movie will do a lot more for character development. I can be sure, at least, it'll contain fewer adverbs than the book (... he said, hopefully). I haven't been to a movie at the cinema in ages, but I think it's time.

In other news, I finished Stardust. What a fancy tale! That's two novels I've read by Neil Gaiman so far, and I've not been disappointed by either. I do, being the sap I am, have to admit I liked Stardust better than Neverwhere, but there's no debating the reason. If any man denies liking a wholesome love story, he's probably not telling the truth. At least, I hope he's not telling the truth. Such a man would be sad, indeed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part III

With an inaudible groan, Buffy went on. “What are they doing?” She saw them, too, darting around in the shadows.

“It’s like they’re looking for something,” Spike reported, rising to the opportunity to show his usefulness. “They’ve covered the two blocks east of here so far, and they’re moving west. Buggers are fast… they’ve only been at it for half an hour, at most.”

Buffy watched the new arrivals below in silence.

“What are you doing up here?” Spike hesitated a bit, then added, “I thought you’d be at Giles’, looking through the books and all that.”

“I got restless.”

“Well, have you found anything? My last run-in with these guys wasn’t a romp in the park, you know. We’re going to have to do something about this eventually.”

“I’m aware of that,” Buffy snipped. She’d been following a barren trail for days, and she didn’t need to be reminded of the fruitlessness of their efforts. “They got three more, all the way across town. I think there are more than there were a few days ago,” she said, softening a little.

“Are you sure those weren’t just Sunnydale vamps?” Spike asked. As much as he was in awe of the newcomers, he knew well enough that having more around wasn’t a good thing. They were a threat to him, too.

“I was in the park where they attacked. Whatever these things are, they’re not like the vampires we know. One of them tore clean through the side of a garbage dumpster. I can’t imagine why.”

A low voice came from behind them. “They’re looking for something, indeed.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brilliant Work

I've started reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and I must say, it's absolutely terrific. It's a fantasy with faeries and gnomes and witches, which I quite like, and it's superbly written. It takes magic, indeed, to portray a prince in a fantasy world as emo. It's quotable, too:

"Every lover in his heart is a madman and in his head a minstrel."

Mmm. I love me a good story.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part II

Ever since these new vampires (as far as anybody could tell, they were indeed vampires, although they sure didn’t fit the conventional mold) arrived, Spike had entertained grand fantasies involving his immunity to sunlight and holy water, coupled with unimaginable strength. He could practically taste the freedom this virtual indestructibility would provide. Most immediately, the blasted chip the Initiative put in his brain would be no obstacle at all. He wasn’t sure how he’d get rid of it, given superhum— er, supervampire powers, but he was sure it would be a trivial process. Beyond that, though, the world would be his! He fancied himself the slaughterer of cities, harking back to his glory days in Vienna and Shanghai, except now, he’d be flying solo, unstoppable by anyone. He’d kill Angel first, then he’d come back around to Sunnydale and take care of his business with Buffy. In his inner revelry, he could almost smell her in the breeze, and it made him smile with the delight of his imagination.

“They’re--”

Spike turned in a flash at the first syllable, startled by the voice beside him, and his hand flew up to lock Buffy’s neck in a cold, steel grip. The instant Buffy’s face registered, Spike’s head exploded in white light, blinding him with an awful pain. “Augghh!” He reeled, pressing his hand against the side of his head, staggering backward toward the edge of the roof.

Buffy whipped her arm out and caught Spike by a handful of leather jacket and the front of his shirt, pulling him back to safety, just as he’d started to topple.

“You should be careful sneaking up on a vampire like that,” Spike said, recovering himself and readjusting his jacket. Then, with a self-satisfied smirk, “You might get hurt.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part I

From this perspective, even in the dark, the blurs of shadow were clearly visible, darting through the alleys, disappearing into shadows, then reappearing again, almost instantaneously, from another shadow yards away. There were three, it seemed, although they moved so quickly, it was hard to keep them straight enough to count. It was hard to tell, too, what they were doing in public. They’d last fed only a couple days ago, as far as Willow could find from the news reports, and by the body count, it was quite a feast.

Spike didn’t really have any legitimate reason to watch these new arrivals go about their business, seeing as he ended up in a crumpled mess the last time he tried to fight one, and there really wasn’t any new intel to gain by watching, but his vigilance wasn’t entirely for the “good of mankind,” as he so liked to make his recent allies believe. To Buffy and Giles and the rest of the Scooby gang, Spike’s enthusiasm was a result of his inability to hurt humans, complicated by a keen taste for violence. This was part of it, indeed, as he needed some excuse for a good scrap, but now, looking down unseen from a downtown rooftop, Spike wasn’t thinking of himself as a savior. He fancied what he could do if he were one of them.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Slacker

I went to a party last night. It's an exhausting affair, the gathering of dozens of people I barely know with the intent to... mingle. It was a good time, all things considered, but I don't think I'll be up for socializing for another year or so. In the course of the night, the majority of the partygoers consumed copious amounts of alcohol, sang loudly, and made a respectable mess. One lady, included in the "majority of partygoers" mentioned previously, called me pretty. I'll have a large head about that for a couple months, to be sure, but I wonder about the word choice. Despite being quite male, that's not the first time a stranger has directed the same word at me. I'm afraid I may have an unconscious habit of... batting my lashes or something. Odd.

Another day passes with nary a word written of the fic I'd fancied writing this month. Does thinking about it count?

In other news, I'm hooked on a new song. If I get everything together, I may record and post that. That'd make for some amusing content, at least.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's Time

So, folks, it's that time of year again. NaBloPoMo is back. I'm too wimpy to write a novel, but I may do a bit of fiction.

Fan fiction, that is. If I can find the courage to post. What happens when the Meyerverse (see the horrid "Twilight" series) invades Sunnydale? I can imagine there'll be a bit of mayhem and some hurt feelings.

Hurt... feelings? Man, this could be pretty awful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Moon Rising

After several years (and countless hours) of Buffy, I've chosen a favorite.

I cry like a sap every durned time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adventurin' Again

I took a lovely hike in the woods today. The lawyers went to Vegas, so the firm was closed, and I had a day completely to myself.

You must realize, I don't hike in the woods without a goal -- there's gotta be something to draw me out there, you see. Indeed, in just about every woods, there is! I picked up four caches today, and I found a bunch of travel bugs (nifty trackable dog tags). Along the way, I found a gigantic patch of poison ivy by wandering into the thick of it, saw a family of deer bounding off into the woods, and heard three or four dozen kids laughing wildly at a man performing on stage. A park ranger waved at me and smiled a big smile (he'd seen me zigzagging, and I have a feeling he knew what I was up to), and a spider tried to eat my nose.

This trip wasn't as wild as the last one (I fell into a creek and trekked in an untamed section of the park a couple weekends ago), but it was quite fulfilling. I totaled about 3.5 miles round trip, so I got a good bit of exercise out of the deal, too.

And, yes. The photos.

First, a collection of travel bugs from the first one I set out to find. A cache like this is called a hotel, seeing as it's a gathering spot for travel bugs. I'd never seen so many in one place. There were five bugs in this one.



I picked up the coin in the next image from a cache about 500 feet into a spot of not-so-dense woods. The deer trails made it pretty easy to get to, and the woods closed behind me pretty quickly, leaving me surrounded by trees. Couldn't be happier in a place like that, no sir. The coin, I'll drop in another cache. They're trackable via the geocaching web site, and the people who plant them intend for them to move from place to place.



The next photo features my caching gear (stick and pack) on the right, and the geocache on the left. The geocache pictured here is the very one in which I discovered the coin pictured above. In my pack, I carry a camera, a bottle of water, bug spray, a notebook, a few pens, small trading items (to leave in caches), the contents of my pants pockets, and a small towel (prompted by common sense, and much appreciated upon the aforementioned dip-in-a-creek incident).



Finally, a photograph of me, and the first, I believe, to be posted to the blog here. Anonymity be darned -- I like my caching hat.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Occasion to Write

I saw the most affected young woman at the bus stop today.

I should state at the outset that I don’t ride the bus -- no, indeed, I have nothing to do with it, apart from recently finding its regular stops a great gathering point of interesting personalities. Over time, I assume, I should get to better know the faces and manners of the people who wait, but I’ve only recently discovered this treasure trove of worthy subjects for observation.

I made my way toward the bus stop shortly after lunch, as I’ve usually got a half hour or so to wander before returning to the grind in our 8th floor office. As I approached, I noticed a lady nervously fixing her shirt, only to take off into a brisk walk around the shelter. I thought nothing of it at that point. I sat in my favorite spot beneath the skywalk where the shade is cool and the breeze pleasant, and I eased back against the cement pillar, meditating to the sound of traffic motoring down Main Street.

As I let my worries waft away in the breeze, I noticed the peculiar behavior of the nervous bus-waiter again. She paced, not only around the shelter in circles, but up and down along the grass, looking about in every direction, intently fiddling with a particular lock of hair. She looked at her watch only once, so I don’t believe her to have been in a great hurry, but I began to wonder with some curiosity what had her in such a fuss. She stopped pacing not once, and it looked quite nearly like she was fleeing, the way she looked about herself, as though she was waiting for some well-known danger to creep out from behind a bush in the adjacent park and make a mad charge toward her.

Each time she paced up and down, her steps brought her a bit nearer to my sitting spot, but never closer than twenty yards or so, while in vain I hoped she would find it in her to make her way toward me enough for a reasonable address. That wouldn’t be so, though, as whatever had her in this fit occupied her mind totally. She noticed hardly a thing, and I daresay she even overlooked my rather intent staring (which, of course, I can’t help, as much as I try). I wanted her to approach and ask for directions or, as I fancied beyond reason, to spill her entire misfortune upon me so that my curiosity would be fulfilled. Perhaps it was no misfortune, after all -- she may have only had a particularly strange way about her, in which case, I’d have been equally glad to know it.

As my wonder grew in intensity, I heard some commotion behind me. Two school-aged boys walked past, and behind them, three or four more. Behind those, there were seven, and beyond-- the entire bus stop was soon overwhelmed with children as two orange school buses arrived to load them up. I was quite overwhelmed, myself, and by the time I gathered my wits, the fretful woman had disappeared in the throng. A city bus, robbed of its rightful place by these brightly-colored intruders, soon pulled up behind them, and as the nervous lady suddenly flew past me and into it, I could only think to myself in a flutter that if she was, indeed, behind schedule or in flight, I should perhaps not see such an interesting character again. If, on the other hand, she was only odd, our paths may yet cross sometime down the road.

I've just finished Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed it far more than I should probably admit. The characters were absolutely lovable (most, at least), and the one with whom I most identified ended up quite happy in the end. Not only that, but it inspired me to a bit of wordplay, which you've so graciously skimmed above. I might not should put my wordplay in a public place for fear of coming across as pretentious, but be assured, that was not my intent. Goodness knows I don't normally write like that, though I may start...

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Earsore

I'm bloody tired of having a week's worth of political "news" screaming at me every time I turn on the radio (honestly, this is worse than the biannual fund drive), and I'm not looking forward to another, but it's caused me to actually think about what's going on. It's actually brought out a bit of... opinion!

If you asked me to synthesize a dream president, I'd tell you I want somebody who stands up for my freedom. Not my freedom from terrorists, mind -- my freedom to live my own life, make my own choices, and participate in my own community. I know quite well where I stand, politically, and I have for quite a long time.

Here's the dilemma: If I were a woman, I'd surely not like to be told I had to carry, birth, and care for a child that was forced upon me by a stranger in an unlit parking lot. Likewise, though, I sure as hell don't want to work for the state and pay for Trixie's seventeen kids' day care. Her "family" has six fathers, see, but none have manned up to do anything but make sexy time with a lady.

I'm expected to choose between a socialist party and a religious fundamentalist party ("Family values" is a euphemism, guys. Let's talk straight, here.) How did we get to this point? What happened to the Land of the Free?

When I retire, it'll be to a fancy little world in my head. For now, I can't wait till these political shenanigans are over and I no longer have to be reminded constantly about how who-and-so is screwing me from afar.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hidden Treasure

I've found me a new hobby. With a tiny GPS receiver, an interested person can find real adventure, even in your own neighborhood.

I've discovered Geocaching, a sort of high-tech treasure hunt. Since there are four "caches" hidden very nearby today, I took a bit of a walk this morning. I was so excited to find the first, I took photographs.



After about a half a mile's hike from home, I found myself in the middle of a patch of woods. Between the spider webs and the overgrown underbrush, I had a heck of a time getting close to the thing, but after a bit of rummaging around...



This guy was really well-hidden. I opened it up to find a bunch of goodies:



After I signed the log (the paper on my foot, there), I left a plectrum, closed the box, and hid it again for the next person to find.

It's odd, the popularity of these things, considering I had no idea this even existed until a few days ago. The last person to find this cache signed the log yesterday. There's a local meetup posted on the web site for next weekend (by coordinates, of course), and I'm actually considering going. What fun, that would be!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Life and a Bag of Cheese

Life has sort of interfered with my blogging recently... I'm not sure how you folks do it.

I've got a new job, a new(ish) apartment, and a significantly upgraded budget spreadsheet. Actually, the significant upgrade is only in the "savings" column, but still. I feel richer, and that's what counts.

I work downtown now. I fight rush hour traffic coming and going, and I'm within walking distance to several places for lunch. The view from our 8th floor office is incredible -- we're just south of the skyscrapers, looking north. My key card, in fact, grants me access to the top floor (any, actually) of one of those very buildings. The view from there, while I've seen it only once, is absolutely breathtaking. I'm important, too! I work with a small team, so my work really does make a big dent. That is, it'll count for a lot once I actually start working. There's so much to learn in a gigantic, well-established company. What I'm used to is quite different from a five-week, set-scheduled training course across multiple organizations and departments. Heck, part of my training is with incoming secretaries, learning to do their job, too.

I've only been on the job two days, but I can say with confidence I'm not overwhelmed yet. Yet.

In other news, I've discovered a few smaller, life-related things:

  • Eggplant is solid, tasty, inexpensive food, and it's not nearly as scary as I thought.
  • Not only does a person have to clean their living area, they have to clean their stuff, too.
  • If you account for savings as an actual expense in your budget, it's much easier not to spend all your money. Thanks to my ma to that one :-)
Good, goodnight.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New

Things are a-changin', that's for sure. More on that after it happens, though. This is a public blog, after all.

I picked up Mass Effect from Wal Mart today after a guy at work said it's "all I play anymore". Usually, that's a good recommendation.

It's actually darned fun. It's a FPS-based RPG, so it's a bit of a combination of questing, exploring, and fearsome battling with guns. My only complaints after a few hours of gameplay are a strange bit of bugginess with the AI (your computer-controlled teammates will sort of warp around instead of walking sometimes, for example) and occasional graphical sputterings, even on the 360. There's no excuse for poor performance on a console. None.

Like I said, though, it's a darned good game overall. I haven't played enough to get very far into the storyline, but even after a few hours, I'm already pretty well engrossed. The gunfights feel great, and while they're not nearly as tactile or explosive as a well-polished FPS like FEAR, the ability to use cover and control your AI teammates' actions adds a fun (albeit a little frustrating, considering some minor AI problems) dimension to strategy. The many available classes also add a good bit of replayability, too, I'd imagine.

In other news, freakin' yay! I'll be posting more on the "yay" stuff in a couple weeks. Just. Yay.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Squeeee!

*aherm*

Pardon me. I just stumbled upon Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

"That's... weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they made me two. You don't... happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?"

"I love it."

"You're kidding! What a crazy, random happenstance!"


Brilliance!

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Art?

I've made another one. I'm getting better at this GIMP thing.



Stores don't sell 8"x12" frames, so I hope it'll hold up to the cropping an 8"x10" frame will require. I hadn't the heart to crop it -- it actually came out of the camera so nicely.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pictures From Home

I've decided not to spend hundreds of dollars on original artwork. Instead, I'm making my own.

Observe:



Next, I think I'm gonna try a grainy black-and-white (stupid no lights) of mah ratter:



At about $20 apiece to make, these sure are better than the $150 they'd cost to buy. They're so much more personal this way, too.

As a bonus, for your amusement only, I'm including the raw shot of the photograph last in the sequence the one above is part of:



Yup. She jumped. Right at me. Rats really can't see very well -- she was about four feet away, and three above the ground. At least she came to a soft landing on my shirt.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tuuuuuuba

I have a bit of a thing for the fat brassy one, I won't lie. I played through high school, and I must say, I was darned good -- I played outside of school, too.

I never, though, came near anything like this...



I think, once, I got two tones out of it. It was an accident, and I never was able to duplicate it. Dang. What fun, he must be having up there!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Swell Time, Indeed

I went to our annual free fund raising concert this weekend, and I must say, it was a great time. The first artist we saw told about his childhood dream of playing for the Weather Channel being finally realized, but the second was a downright party. I took photos. View them.





Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Time

Heads up, everybody. Firefox 3.0 is out. If you didn't catch wind of my initial excitement, I'll tell you now -- get it. Use it. You'll never turn back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Three Lessons

I want to share a few of the core values I hold as an adult. I'd write a personal, private letter about this, but honestly, I'm proud to value these things, and I'm proud of where I picked them up.

Above everything, a man lives for his children. Once he's a dad, there's no turning back -- he'll have that title forever, and it's not one to be taken lightly. That bike trip to Montana you'd dreamed about as a kid? Maybe once you retire and your kids are grown. By then, though, you may be at a different point in your life, and you might never have that trip after all. Worry not about that, though; you've got a new life now, and one that's infinitely more important. One, too, that'll never let you go.

Second, and nearly equally important, a man honors (and occasionally dotes upon) his wife. Those kids I mentioned before depend on it, and if no kids exist, a wife is your most important priority. There's no room for selfishness here, either.

Finally, throughout all else, a man holds his head up, even when things don't go quite the way he planned. There's a silent strength a real man possesses that can't necessarily be taught -- only demonstrated.

Your job isn't over (don't expect I'll let you off that easy :p), but you've already had a smashing success. All these things, you've demonstrated well. They're part of me now, and when the time comes, they'll be part of another generation.

Thanks, Dad.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rat infestation!

As I write this out, I've got a fuzzy rat nuzzled up against my leg in the chair. It looks like she's falling asleep, but if I put my hand down there next to her and cuddle, she makes clicky noises with her teeth and licks my finger over and over.

I had no idea rats were like this. I thought they were like big mice, but there's really no "bonding" with a mouse. What we're doing here, though, this cuddling thing, is definitely social.

Now she really is sleepy. She's not licking anymore -- just lazing. If I scratch up behind her ears, her eyes close a little bit more. Heh. She's not even moving.

Also, to the kids in the apartment down a floor and across the hall: I hope you stick around for awhile, and I hope you continue to leave your screen door open when you sing together in the middle of the night. Noise complaints be damned. You guys are darned good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Halloooo

I am alive. It's been a terribly busy week or so.

1) I moved. Woo. I even have my own utensils. How awesome is that?
2) Ratter's gonna be alright. I took her to the vet last Wednesday, as she was still awfully sneezy, they kept her for a week, then called today to tell me nothing is wrong with her. BAH.
3) I'm having a party tomorrow. It's going to be terrific.

I hope to post some pictures of the apartment sometime soon. I just get so wrapped up in unpacking and putting things in drawers, it's hard to do much else.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Real Job

*falls into his chair*

I got the holiday off work without even asking. Kinda makes this feel like a real job...

*wipes his brow*

What good is a day off, though, if all you're doing is working at home? This deep-cleaning BS is for the birds.

Come to think of it...

Wheee

Still packing. Who knew that in three rooms, I had so much junk? I've filled so many bags with trash ("memories", actually -- I'm such a pack rat), I'm surprised I had room for all of it.

Speaking of, I've found a friend. Whoever said you can't buy friends had surely never been to the pet store. Meet Ratter:



I've been partial to rodents in the past (mice, particularly), but I figured I needed a more... interactive pal, seeing as I'm going to be alone pretty much always. She's not much bigger than a mouse at this point, but she's growing pretty quickly. In the photo, she's still cowering from "Where the hell am I?" syndrome, but she's since warmed up to a bit of play. If I pinch her behind, she'll jump and dart around and come back to nibble on my finger till I do it again. She still won't come up on my hand willingly (or out of her cage at all, so far), but we're working on her social skills :-)

My only worry is her sneeziness -- she's been sneezing since she came home, and it hasn't gotten much better, despite a change in bedding. The internet says respiratory disease is to be expected in rats, and while she sure doesn't act ill, I can't help but fear the worst. If it doesn't disappear in a week (the internet also says new rats usually go through a sneezy phase), I'll likely take her in for some fixin'.

Ah, fuzzy critters. I can't deny having a soft spot for them. If that makes me a sap, well. It makes me a happy sap, at least.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Urban Adventure

Been awhile since my last post. I've been busy -- I found an apartment, and now I'm packing up all my crap for storage or transport. Excited about that, truthfully. Like, whoa excited. I can't stop talking about it.

Even between the boxes, I had time for a small adventure this evening. I hadn't done this since I was a tot. I'm actually surprised at how well we did.












Sunday, May 11, 2008

Odd Means

Look down at your keys. See the QWERTY and the UIOP? Some folks don't at all -- they see an AOEU and a HTNS. It's a lot rarer than I'd imagine, using something different from the QWERTY and JKL;. Seems the old standard has stuck around just due to the small bit of effort it takes to change.

Allow me to introduce a better way to type:



I'm truly surprised this isn't more commonly used -- let alone even heard of -- among typists and computer users. It's more efficient, more accurate, and downright easier to learn. It takes about two weeks to pick up to a decent typing speed (35-ish wpm), and a few more months to get up around 100wpm. After that, there's no upper limit. Apparently, the fastest typist in the world flies at over 200wpm using this layout.

Granted, it's a pretty big change. You'll limit your speed when you use somebody else's computer (I haven't retained the ability to touch-type very well at all on a QWERTY keyboard), but at least you can look at the keys and get by. The adjustment period is also pretty tough; it's like having a speaking disability, being unable to communicate fluently for a couple weeks. After you've adjusted, though, and if you still use QWERTY once or twice a week to keep it reasonably usable, you'll be much, much better off for it. You'll type more quickly, more accurately, and you'll move your fingers FAR less than you did with QWERTY. Whenever I type at a shared workstation, for example, I'm always amused at the hand gymnastics folks put themselves through just to communicate.

I've been using Dvorak for a couple years now. I'd never go back, not ever. I couldn't forfeit the fluid, efficient keystrokes and accuracy-by-default. Why would you trade a free Lexus for a $20k Honda? On the other hand, why would you pay $300/mo forever for a Honda when you could work for two weeks and have a free Lexus for life, hmm?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I am an ARTISTE!

Turns out iMovie, which I've been using to make videos for quite awhile now, actually has a bit more functionality built into it than the record-and-export I've been doing previously. It's pretty easy, too -- only takes a little more time to get everything lined up. Now, the possibilities are endless, since I'm actually recording the sound with Garage Band.





Wonder if there are any openings at Pixar... I'm a shoe-in, for sure!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PC Guy? Not Really...

I was listening to Marketplace today (not my first choice, but it's alright if it's on), and during their listener comments segment, the host interviewed John Hodgman. If you're not much with the names, as I'm not, they introduced him as the PC guy in "those Apple ads". Apparently he's also a regular on The Daily Show.

Anyway, he's actually a mac guy:


You're wondering, perhaps, what kind of computer Hodgman uses? He's says he's been a Mac guy since the 1980's, if you don't count a seven-year detour into PCs back during the 90's. He says he's got an iMac at home.


There you have it. Even the PC guy isn't a PC guy. We'll take over eventually, y'know.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Life and Death in Thirty Seconds (A poem!)

I've written a poem. I don't do poetry, so I have no idea if it's good or not. But, seeing as it's National Poetry month for only a few more days, I figured I'd better hop to it. That, and I'm not afraid at all to publish tasteless trash. You should see my Youtube!

Life and Death in Thirty Seconds

He was driving too fast;
The road was wet.
Seventy, eighty, ninety...
"You need to slow the hell down," I said,
And he did, but only a little.
The speedometer climbed again.

We passed, on the side of the road,
A car that had already slid off a gentle curve
And stopped in a ditch.
Passed quickly, mind, and sped right on.
Then we started to slide, ourselves.
We slid.

I felt the speed when we left the road:
Tires flitting briefly over tufts of grass,
So fast, we flew!
A hill appeared ahead,
And the engine revved?
Our driver is no longer with us...

Whoosh! Not a crash;
An all-energy-expelled whoosh.
We really were flying now.
I watched the horizon tilt in slow motion,
Hoping we'd crash before it went vertical,
But it passed vertical, now upside-down, still mid-air.

"I love you," Ma said, already resigned.
Not to me, but to our driver.
In her voice, a question: "Why?"
I never heard the crash;
Didn't even feel it.
I just... woke up.

What a horrible waste of time,
If we woke up and remembered
Hazily, the dream we dream now.
The ultimate importance of NOW
Becomes a shrug, a fading memory,
Forgotten in a real waking hour.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ah, Youtube

I am amused. Found these on WTF_Nature, where I'll admit to spending more time than I should.




-and-





That reminds me -- I should update the Blogroll.

Done.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's Better with Cheese

Whine, that is. Actually it's pretty rank regardless of what you use to mask the rotten flavor, but that's not my point. I had to use a clever title. Because I'm clever like that.

I've spent the last three days wrestling with a Windows 2000 installation. I got the idea to install Windows on the sandbox when I decided it'd be fun to have a LAN party of two, and since Win2k was the last that didn't deal with the stupid activation crap, that was my choice. I don't want to BUY the operating system. I just want to play with it. It's a sandbox, after all.

Many hours later (after a wonky install that forced a domain login and the buggering up of Win2k Server within ten minutes of playing in places I shouldn't), I've got a working installation. The first thing I did -- I'm a geek, of course -- was to fire up Nessus (which, to my delight, now has a native OS X version) and aim it at my freshly installed Windows box. Ouch. Despite having SP4 already installed, I found three "Arbitrary code execution" vulnerabilities right off the bat. I'm in the process of patching up right now, which will take a couple additional hours.

Sadly, the thing won't play Guild Wars. I mean, it does run, but the framerate is a whopping two or three frames per second at the lowest resolution. Considering I have a screaming 1.3Mhz processor and a 64MB ATI Raedon 7000 video card (c'mon, it's a sandbox, not a gaming rig), I'm surprised it even installed without making a nervous mess on the floor. So much for Guild Wars, but it'll still be a fun experiment.

I'm not whining. Right. Well.

Windows 2000 takes about an hour to format an NTFS partition (depending on size, of course). Once it's installed, it comes with a TON of services enabled and running, which, as Nessus easily demonstrated, is pretty durned dangerous. If I'd been connected directly to the internet, we'd already have a virus-infected machine on our hands. Beyond all that, the operating system is very much like a special, secret club in high school -- they do everything differently (and often, it seems, just for the sake of it), so you've got to be schooled all over again in exactly what's cool and what's not.

I'm not sure what takes the Windows installer so long to format a drive -- WinXP has a "quick format" feature built into it, at least, but fdisk has never, as long as I've used it, had any sort of "go out and eat dinner and it might be done when you get back" problem.

I'm also not sure what all these vulnerable services are about -- why, exactly, do I need a service called "Remote Procedure Call"? Why, also, would I want to share my hard drive with the LAN? Currently, my production Gentoo server is hanging out with 35 running processes, and all but the background system processes were specifically installed and enabled by the administrator. My freshly installed Win2k Pro machine has 20 running processes (assuming I can trust the task manager to include everything), and it's not doing anything but sitting there.

Finally, and most significantly, I have no idea how to effectively administer a Windows machine. Each of the Windows server products (IIS, MSSQL, Active Directory) is a foreign language (Have you seen the wiki on LDAP? Gibberish!), and to learn them requires a ton of background in still more specific, proprietary operating system voodoo. I still don't know what the registry does, apart from hold information that should be in a .conf file to begin with, and I've been using Windows since I was a kid. Personally, I'm disinclined to learn this magic. The phrase "vendor lock-in" relays a powerful message, and I take it seriously. If I were a veterinarian, I'd not spend tremendous amounts of energy learning the biology of a freakish creature like Barbourula kalimantanensis, because while it may help my understanding of biology a bit, it's really too narrow a topic to apply to the broader science of veterinary medicine. I'll learn what I need to get by (that is, which buttons to hit to achieve the desired goal), but truly, I'm not that interested in treating lungless frogs the rest of my life. (See? Lungless isn't even a word, according to Firefox's built-in spell check). It's just too obscure to mean anything.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tagged?

Overeducated Twit tagged me for a meme I've seen floating around lately. I feel so popular...

After a bit of thought, I've come up with a couple:

Lives life searching for dog's tranquility.

Quest Reward: Sage's Shroud of Truth

And, for the moment:

Sitting in the driveway enjoying spring.

Six-word stories are fun (the first place I saw this sort of thing). There are a bunch posted at Wired. If I had to choose a favorite, I'd pick Orson Scott Card's: "The baby's blood type? Human, mostly."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Viva los Emosexuales

Somebody shared this link with me this afternoon. I understand the gravity of the conflict (obviously -- hundreds of emo kids all moping about in the same place is a frightening thought), but I can't help but laugh.

"They're organizing to defend their right to be emo," wrote Daniel Hernandez of LA Weekly on his personal blog, which has provided stellar coverage of the whole affair."

Emos are so funny.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Interesting Statistic...

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

I ganked this from Cranky Epistles. I'd say she has me beat, but apparently, I didn't hear the starting whistle. I'm surprised.

Bottle in the Sea

When I was a kid, I couldn't handle helium balloons. I wasn't particularly attached to them, being only colorful, gas-filled bags of rubber, but the dreadful feeling of helplessness when that balloon would slip out of my grasp and float up beyond my reach was too much to risk. I'd either refuse one, much to the chagrin of my adult caretakers (what the heck is wrong with this kid?), or I'd wrap that silly plastic ribbon around my hand so tightly that it'd cut off circulation and leave imprints in my skin when I took it off indoors. Even then, I worried about the joint at the ribbon and the balloon coming loose and sending a half-complete toy far up into the sky, beyond my merciful care and into the unfeeling force of atmospheric currents.

I specifically remember the gut-wrenching rush of reckless adrenaline, sorrow, and an uncanny pining for that balloon I already had when, once, I opened the car window and let the balloon out, clinging as tightly as I could to that polypropylene lifeline, feeling the wind tug at the balloon outside the car. After I couldn't take any more, I pulled the balloon back inside and clung to it like I clung to my beloved Teddy, rescued from the terror of a playful dog (I cried when that happened). My strange obsessive worry about losing hold of those twenty-five cent toys -- which deflated eventually anyway, even though I had no problem with that -- was real, and it had terrific power over my childhood mind.

I don't worry about balloons anymore, but that obsessive mental defect crops up elsewhere, now that I've grown. I still pine dearly for things I already have and am afraid to lose, and I still find myself wanting to turn down those blasted balloons completely; the prospect of a shiny new job, a fuzzy pet, or a meaningful relationship frighten me as much as they excite me. Likewise, too, once I hold something valuable, I cling instinctively, except now, the strangling ribbon affects more than a small, unknown corner of a quiet kid's psyche.

Friday, March 21, 2008

More Piles of Rock!

It's already Friday morning. Since we ran out of time to see Denver, we'll be heading back up there for another night tonight, but currently, we're in Alamosa, CO, the nearest town to the Great Sand Dunes. We went there yesterday:



A word, here, to the unwise: Leave your digicam in the car if you're gonna go climbing around on sand dunes -- both cameras we brought broke due to sand inhalation. The photo above was the last one she took before she finally died. I knew it was going to happen, so I figured if somebody found the camera a thousand years from now, they'd have a record of its final moments. The wind out there was terrific -- A hooded shirt and face mask were absolutely necessary. Out in that stinging tempest, I thought for a moment the camera and I may share the same fate, so in a way, the camera's last words were the same I'd choose for myself: "All I see is sand!"

We headed back into town, where we ate lunch at a lovely coffee shop and learned about the tainted water in town. Milagro's coffee, the one mentioned in the article, is the one we ate lunch at (this really is a tiny town). Thankfully, our hotel assures us the water we've consumed over the last few days has been safe, as theirs comes from a separate well. Sure enough, though, the town is shutting down -- pretty much all the chains are closed:



We then made another trek out to the parks after picking up some bottled water at Wal Mart, and hiked again in the woods. This time, the trail was mostly maintained by deer -- we didn't see any human tracks, and sometimes had to do some scouting to find out how to get to the next trail marker. To top it off, about half the trail was covered in several feet of snow. Thankfully, it had compacted over the winter, so we could walk on top of it for the most part. Occasionally, though, we'd sink up to a knee in the stuff, yelp for the other to stop while we dug ourselves out, then use the club (a heavy, dead tree branch we found for protection from mountain lions) to climb our way back to the top of the snow pack. The view from those mountains was tremendous:



We ate at a local pizza place for dinner (the only place that was open, actually), and slept well. Today, we'll see the Great Divide brewery in Denver, and tomorrow, we're off for a long trek home.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Great piles of rock!

Welcome to Denver. It's really sad when you take a vacation, and all along the way, you snap photos and think, "Man, I'm so gonna blog this." That said, from my perspective, it's a fun thing. These are my photos, for my own remembering.

Saturday, we drove. While normally a drive across country would be an exciting thing, we drove through seven hours of:



Finally, though, we saw our first sign of the mountains. Of course, in my excitement, I snapped about a dozen photos that looked very much like this:



Shortly into the mountains, we came across a lovely snowstorm. The magic of driving up a mountain road in the snow made the seven-hour trek through nothingness completely worth it. I had to video this one -- it was hard to get good exposure with a photograph.





We finally made it to the Stanley Hotel, perched on the side of a mountain just outside Estes Park. We spent as much on dinner as the hotel stay, but I tell ya, I've never had a rack of lamb so tasty. I also had a decent brew with a funny name:



The next morning, we went for a hike in the snowy woods. Despite the snow and altitude, it was easy enough to stay warm with activity. Breathing, though, was the hard part. Mountain air is thin -- it's no fabrication. After a mile or so, you get used to it, but it really is a novel experience at first, to have to breathe so heavily.



After our hike, we checked into the Marriott in Denver. I've never been in such a fancy hotel -- the atrium, even, was quite a shock:



Monday afternoon, we went to the Denver Aquarium downtown. In a few hours, we saw bunches of fish, some live tigers, and we ate fish in front of other fish. The humanfish below says, "WTF? BOB!?!?"





Tuesday, we visited the Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Denver, then we hopped over a couple blocks to the Denver Art Museum, then we jogged across the street to a nice little café and wine bar.





After the museums and coffee, our expert driver missed the turn for the hotel, and we ended up in a large outdoor mall, where we milled around Bass Pro Shop (where a man let us come behind the counter to look through his telescope at another man crossing the highway), Forever 21 (a shiny clothing store, where even the floor sparkled), and I took a nap in a comfy chair at the book store.

That evening, dinner was room service (never done that before...), and sleep was sound, after the miles of museum wandering.

Wednesday, now, has just begun. I'll post more later, I'm sure, as we've a visit to the sand dunes and some possible cave exploration ahead. Until then, eh?